Date of Award

Fall October 2015

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Martha McCarthy

Second Advisor

Karen K. Huchting

Third Advisor

Sr. Mary Angela Shaughnessy


The bully has been a figure in adolescent life for decades; however, the nature of bullying in the 21st Century has changed as it has moved to cyberspace. Bullying has taken on a new form termed cyberbullying. This quantitative survey design study examined Catholic school teachers’ legal understanding and perceptions of cyberbullying. In examining Catholic school teachers’ understanding of the law governing cyberbullying, their concerns about cyberbullying, their perceived responsibility in addressing cyberbullying, and their perceived ability to respond to cyberbullying, the study examined the human interactions that reflect not only legal responsibilities, but also ethical obligations as caring and just leaders in Catholic schools.

A survey instrument was distributed online to eight Catholic schools within the Diocese of St. Aquinas (a pseudonym). The study showed that Catholic school teachers had limited understanding of the law governing cyberbullying. Findings indicated that Catholic school teachers were concerned about cyberbullying and perceived a high level of responsibility in addressing cyberbullying, but did not perceive an ability to effectively respond to cyberbullying. The findings support the need for professional development programs to increase Catholic school teachers’ awareness of cyberbullying and provide comprehensive training on how to respond effectively. Findings also suggest re-examination of teacher preparation programs to provide training to teachers on how to recognize and effectively manage cyberbullying. Persistent attention to private school law and current case analysis should be an ongoing practice at the diocesan level with the intent to disseminate legal information and direction to Catholic school principals and teachers.